EUMM welcomes the release of the 16 Georgian woodcutters arrested by Russian Border Guards on 25 October in the area of Akhali Burguli. This follows the release yesterday of 5 Georgian citizens arrested in Balta on 25 October. “We are happy that circumstances of the arrest were clarified and these people can now return to their families and their work”, EUMM Head of Mission Ambassador Haber said. “Cooperation between Georgian, South-Ossetian, Russian and EUMM representatives proved crucial in bringing this case to a prompt resolution”, he added.
EUMM urges law enforcement agencies on both sides of the administrative boundary line to keep exercising flexibility in dealing with similar cases. The nature of the administrative divide and the traditionally tight network of contacts between local residents is likely to keep resulting in accidental straying, especially during the harvesting season. Within the framework of the Incident Prevention and Reaction Mechanism, participants have repeatedly supported a gentlemen’s agreement according to which accidental trespassers should be sent back without being arrested or detained. A coherent implementation of this agreement would help prevent similar incidents and would positively impact on the living conditions of the local population.